The Department of Energy’s second-in-command spent time at the Savannah River Site last week, visiting a range of facilities and conferring awards to the team behind the Salt Waste Processing Facility, a plant meant to process millions of gallons of nuclear waste every year.
Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes’ Dec. 4 tour brought him to the Savannah River National Laboratory, the Defense Waste Processing Facility and liquid-waste areas, and the proposed Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility, the Aiken Standard has learned.
The hallmark of the deputy secretary’s trip, though, was a ceremony at which members of the SWPF project team were recognized and presented Secretary of Energy Appreciation awards.
Awardees included Pam Marks, the federal project director, who was lauded for management excellence and leadership.
“I am pleased to present the Secretary of Energy Appreciation awards to the SWPF project team at the Savannah River Site,” Menezes said. “One of the many groundbreaking accomplishments taking place at the SRS is the start-up of the SWPF. This facility is a leap forward in the Department of Energy’s ability to tackle legacy nuclear tank waste, one of the largest and most challenging environmental risks.”
The first batch of radioactive waste was handled at the Salt Waste Processing Facility in early October. Since then, tens of thousands of gallons have been processed.
Construction of the facility wrapped in 2016. Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar helped cut a ribbon at the facility in September.
Six million gallons of nuclear waste could be processed in the first year of full SWPF operations, according to the Energy Department.
“SWPF begins a new era in processing radioactive material that, in the near future, will enable DOE to close waste tanks at an unprecedented rate,” Savannah River Site manager Michael Budney has previously said.